– Richemont has enjoyed a significant improvement in demand during the six-month period. Growth in sales of 22 per cent in April and May 2004 more than offset the sharp decline seen in 2003 as a consequence of the SARS epidemic. This growth was complemented by growth of some 10 per cent in sales in the latter part of the period such that, for the 6 month period overall, sales grew by 14 per cent at actual exchange rates.
– Operating profit increased to EUR 208 million, reflecting the growth in sales and improved margins resulting from higher manufacturing capacity utilisation and the close monitoring of operating expenses.
– Cash flow from operations amounted to EUR 105 million. In addition, the Group received EUR 1 100 million in respect of its investment in British American Tobacco by way of dividends and the proceeds from the disposal of its interest in BAT preference shares. In consequence, net cash at the end of September amounted to EUR 203 million compared to net debt at 31 March 2004 of EUR 794 million.
– The Group”s share of the results of British American Tobacco amounted to EUR 238 million, an increase of 8 per cent. The increase primarily reflects underlying profit growth and the strength of sterling against the euro, which more than compensated for the Group”s lower effective interest in the company during the period.